While many area county offices remain closed to the public due to the pandemic, some are beginning to open their doors with new precautions in place.
County-run license bureaus are re-opening in many areas counties, but not all.
All or most service offices remained entirely closed to public walk-ins as of Tuesday in Blue Earth, Nicollet, Le Sueur and Watonwan counties.
All business continues to be conducted remotely whenever possible and limited in-person meetings are by appointment only.
The exception in Le Sueur County is the Sheriff’s Office. The lobby is open to citizens who need to file gun permit applications or need other public safety assistance.
In Blue Earth County, the License Center quietly opened to visitors by appointment this week after two months of processing requests for vehicle title applications, tab renewals and more entirely via mail, dropbox and online.
People are still asked to submit their papers remotely or leave them in the exterior dropbox if the are able, said Amy Holst, the county’s administrative and communication specialist.
When in-person interactions are necessary, Holst said the new license center which opened last year has glass barriers that are helping protect staff and visitors.
The license center doors remain locked and customers with appointments must call when they arrive to gain admission.
The county is developing safety plans and expects to begin opening other service offices early next month, Holst said.
Waseca County has re-established many of its in-person services, including its license bureau, with appointments either required or encouraged.
“We have a desire to provide the most effective service we can,” said Waseca County Administrator Michael Johnson. “Frankly, that just wasn’t always possible with restricted access to our facilities and staff. Our community has been very patient and has a desire to find that sense of normalcy that will come eventually with time. “
Johnson said the county, in collaboration with community partners, has been developing a three-phase re-opening plan for weeks. All county facilities will likely reopen with limited hours and extra precautions on June 1 and then return to near normalcy at the end of June.
“To borrow our governor’s analogy, this isn’t a flip of a light switch,” Johnson said. “It is a regimented, coordinated effort to find the balance between safety and effective service.”
In Brown County, the human services office reopened to the public Tuesday and the license bureau and other county offices are now open by appointment. The law enforcement lobby remains open.
Remote contact is encouraged and in-person visitors are required to wear masks.
In Sibley County most offices are open once again, though appointments are required in most cases and continued remote correspondence is encouraged when possible.
The service center lobby is open for visitors to obtain paperwork but all meetings between staff and clients continue to be conducted remotely.
The license center is open limited hours, with license renewals by appointment only and use of the drop box encouraged for tab renewals.
Sibley County Administrator John Glisczinski said his county is following federal and state social distancing and sanitation guidelines. The precautions include installing plexiglass barriers and the county is allowing only four guests at a time into the license center and the service center. County staff also are bringing documents out to residents in their cars when possible.
More information and instructions for making appointments can be found on county websites.